Jan 262015

I watched an interesting flower-making video this weekend using a Provo Craft flower quilling kit that was introduced at the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) spring conference about five years ago. I have no idea if I’m the last person on the face of the earth to learn about this type of a paper flower, but in any event I ordered an economically priced kit through eBay to play around with it.

My Provo Craft kit should arrive later this week, but honestly, I was itching to try the technique today. I looked through my cutting dies to see if any of them could be used to craft a lookalike flower. The basic method involves rolling strips of decorative-edge paper into a spiral, then folding back anything that resembles a petal to form a flower. When I ran across my Vintage Lace Decorative Edge Die from Tim Holtz, I thought it might just work to make a quilled flower.

Vintage Lace Die

You need an extended length cutting platform and extended length acrylic cutting plates to make this work with your Big Shot die cutting machine. Fortunately, I already had these accessories on hand.

Platform and acylic cutting plates

The decorative strips are rather detailed, so you have to poke out lots of little bits of paper to get the lace effect.

Poking out the holes

I inked the three lace strips of paper with Victorian Velvet Distress Ink by Tim Holtz, but I suspect the cream-colored paper would have looked just fine without the inking. Note that I cut a 1/8 strip of paper to begin the quilled flower. A quarter-inch strip would work equally well.

Decorative edge strips #2

Inked strips

Next, I slipped the tip of the 1/8 inch strip of paper into my Imaginisce® dual-tipped quilling/embossing tool, and began wrapping successively wider strips of paper around the narrower strips. In the end, I finished by hand because I found that to be easier. It doesn’t look like much of anything at this point.

Rolled up strips

The real magic begins when you fold back the petal-like points of the decorative strips. You really do end up with a tiny little flower! I adhered a pearl to the center of the florette, but this step is optional.

Finished florette

On the underside of the florette, I squeezed out a generous amount of Beacon Fabri-Tac glue to secure the layers of paper. I don’t like to use a hot glue gun because it adds bulk to a project, so this is my go-to substitute. Fabri-Tac sticks to nearly everything.

Gluing the underside

The finished flower is tiny, measuring just under 1-3/8 inch in diameter—a little too small for the covers of my mini books, but perhaps you feel differently. The blossom sits about a quarter inch above anything to which you adhere it, so if you’re looking for a raised 3-D flower, this is it.

Size of florette compared to palm

I’ve started a short list of ways to use the above type of flower:

  • Adhere a cluster of florettes to the corner of a picture frame.
  • Decorate a lid for a jewelry box, altered tin or glass jar.
  • Adhere magnets to the underside of the florette to make fridgies.
  • Decorate a greeting card with a florette, but keep in mind that you’ll need to mail it in a padded envelope.
  • Insert floral wire, add leaves, and make flowers you can arrange in a vase, or wire into a wreath.
  • Adhere a florette to a satin or velvet ribbon to make a choker.

How else do you think this dainty little paper flower could be used? Let me know in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jan 242015

This entire week, I have been touching on some of my goals for 2015. I discussed streamlining my creative process, or being more efficient, in Efficiency meets serenpidity. In Using paper scraps to craft accent flowers, I stressed my desire to shop less and use existing materials more. Optimizing my craft storage and working space is also on my list of goals for 2015. In May of last year, I finally retired from my 12-year stint as Co-Affiliate Training Director for Iowa’s Destination Imagination program, which involved keeping lots of records and tracking many different projects simultaneously. During five years of that same period, I developed a gifted education after-school enrichment program for local elementary schools, and taught German at those same schools and out of my home for even longer. While most people who know me claim that my approach to projects is organized—and they are correct if they look through my computer files—what they don’t see are the cartons of paper files, the books, binders, and hands-on materials that have accumulated on shelves, the garage, the basement, and even in my crafting areas. What in the world do retired teachers do with all of their materials?!

Training materials collage

So, one of my goals this year is not only to reduce the space training materials occupy, but to use that same space for my crafting materials that, quite frankly, spill onto every horizontal space I can find in the house. It is a struggle to keep the kitchen table cleared, as it is the biggest working-height flat space. After every work session, I have promised myself to put things away. But wait a moment! There are a couple of working spaces available that may not need to be torn down daily . . . if only I can clear them off first.

In my sewing room, I removed the laptop on the writing desk to turn it into a cutting table/paper crafting surface. However, I can hardly use it in its current state. Hopefully the incentive to clean up this desk will follow soon, since it’s embarrassing to see this mess on the Web.

Writing Desk

In the basement, there is an old dining room table I inherited from my mom after she passed away that is actually bigger than the kitchen table, if only I would sweep it clean. I have no idea what is buried on the other side of the light box, which also needs to be relocated. Obviously, this mess is worse than the one in the sewing room, but not by much.

Basement table

As for my paper crafting studio, that is where I store tools, paper and paper crafting embellishments. It’s also where my laptop resides, so it’s my writing room. And if we have a guest, it can be a spare bedroom. In a word, it’s not a good place to craft! I do have a nice view outside of my window, though—rain, sunshine, or snow.

Looking out the window

And then there are the put-aways. (Don’t tell me you don’t have such a thing!) Sitting in a basket (and elsewhere) are paper crafting tools and supplies that need to be put away. Sometimes items sit in one place because I haven’t yet settled on a practical storage system.

Basket of put-aways

Previously I stored wood-mounted rubber stamps in plastic see-through shoe boxes. While they fit nicely (jigsaw-style, that is), you can imagine what happened when I needed the stamp at the bottom of the box. The box got dumped. Recently I discovered these shallow clam shell-type plastic packages at my local scrapbooking store. They are called Stufftainers™ by Stampendous, and come in all kinds of depths, ranging from 7/16 inch to one inch. This is the “thicker” size (actually labeled that way), recommended for organizing your wood-mounted stamps. I store my containers on a shelf, stacked, but the Stampendous folks suggest storing them vertically in a magazine rack, color-coding them with ribbon tied to the tab that is intended for hanging the Stufftainers.

Stufftainers by Stampendous

They work quite nicely for my collection of Faber-Castell Gelatos water-soluble crayons and related supplies, too.


In short, 2015 will be a year when I will work toward better organization of work space and supplies. I’m sure it will be a continuing goal. When you craft, it’s the nature of the beast to spread your things out to make selections. In fact, that chaos inspires creativity until . . . it blocks you because there are too many choices and/or no space in which to create. What are some of your favorite ways to control creative chaos? Let me know in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jan 212015

Earlier this week I mentioned that one of my goals in 2015 is to find ways to streamline my creative process. In other words, I want to work more efficiently. A second goal is to be more thrifty—to use more of the materials I have on hand instead of buying new ones so frequently. Right now I am working my way through a box filled with packages of paper-and-fabric flowers from Petaloo, Pink Paislee, Prisma and lots of other companies whose names don’t begin with the letter “P.” Some of the flowers are too big to use for my mini books, so I will have to find other uses for them.

Box of paper-and-fabric flowers

One fact is certain, however. I will likely run out of some colors of flowers faster than others, and will need to replace them. My intent is to use the scraps of paper I save after crafting projects are completed. I throw few scraps away, as you can tell from the messy three-ring binder below, in which I’ve grouped papers into approximate color families. The binder is hyper-extended when closed, so it’s obvious that I have plenty of paper scraps to craft flowers. It takes time to do so, but is creatively satisfying.

Scrap paper binder

I have run out of certain shades of purple flowers, and have no lavender ones at all, so when I needed to complete a book cover a couple of days ago, I flipped through the pages of my scrap paper binder until I found the color I needed. It took very few items to assemble my flower:

  • paper, glue and scissors
  • Tim Holtz® Alterations Movers & Shapers™ dies and a Bigz die, all of them from the Tattered Florals line
  • Sizzix Starry Night embossing folder to texturize the paper
  • Tim Holtz® Distress Ink in Victoria Velvet to modify the color of the paper somewhat
  • a skinny paintbrush whose handle was used to curl the petals in a random fashion
  • an adhesive pearl for the center of the flower

Basic tools for first flower

All I had to do was cut out the flowers with my Big Shot die cutting machine, emboss them, color them, curl the petals, and glue the pieces together. If you don’t have a cutting die, I honestly think you could draw the flowers freehand and cut them out with scissors. It’s a simple process.

First flower

The assembly process for the above flower was so easy, in fact, that I decided to challenge myself yesterday by crafting a second flower using a tutorial from talented scrapbooking artist Lisa Nazario-Gregory of the blog, What a Beautiful Mess, not to be confused with the Web site, A Beautiful Mess. They are two completely different sites. Almost two years ago, Creative Director Tim Holtz of Ranger Industries ran a design contest using Tattered Flowers cutting dies. Lisa was one of the five winners. You can see her beautiful flowers in the first photo in this post, and you can find her tutorials in the side bar of her blog. I skimmed through her tutorials, searching for the ones that used Tattered Florals dies, until I narrowed my choice down to the Fairy Cosmos Flower. This flower uses a combination of McGill flower punches, as well as a Tattered Florals die.

McGill and Tattered Florals Dies

Lisa does such a wonderful job of outlining the steps for making this flower that I am going to refer you directly to her tutorial.

One of the nice things about the Tattered Florals dies is that there is virtually no wrong way to assemble the flowers, as long as you build them up from the largest layer to the smallest. You can make your flowers from paper, fabric, foil, corrugated cardboard, grunge board or grunge paper, leftover clear plastic packaging, and I’m sure there are materials I’ve left off of this list. Basically, you’re limited only by your imagination. In the video below, Sizzix art room designer Debi Adams discusses many possible materials that can be used with the Bigz XL Jumbo Tattered Florals Die by Tim Holtz®.

As for me, my version of Lisa Nazario-Gregory’s Fairy Cosmos Flower matches the gratitude book I created over the weekend. I can’t wait to see what other kinds of flowers I can craft using Tattered Florals dies.

2nd flower

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.